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Sterling deserves his tarnishment

April 30, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
A lifetime ban for the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers seems right to me.

Donald Sterling is, despite millions given to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a racist. He has a track record. He’s had his share of run-ins regarding his views on race.

He was sued by the Justice Department regarding his rental practices to tenants in buildings he owns. They don’t bear repeating here — you can find them elsewhere and frankly, they’re simply the statements of an ignorant man with money.

He was sued by former Clippers exec Elgin Baylor (an NBA legend) over comments Baylor says Sterling made during contract talks and in statements to Baylor. Again, they’re the kind of comments indicative of an attitude that would put Sterling right on the front porch of an antebellum mansion with a mint julep in his hand 170 years ago.

He’s been said to have made statements regarding his players that would indicate he considered them property, not men.

Again, look around online.

You’ll find the comments.

So, when the latest controversy surfaced, regarding a recording of him telling his mistress he didn’t like her telling others she hangs around with black people, it was enough. Enough that when the allegations became public, the reaction was swift and justified. Enough that his players, who have made the team something other than a league doormat for the first time in decades, threatened a walkout and staged a silent protest.

Enough that players around the league expressed solidarity and former players, including the normally silent Michael Jordan (a fellow team owner), spoke out.

There was little doubt, little option and no other correct course of action for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to take but to ban Sterling (Silver tarnishes Sterling, what a great headline) and fine him and order sale of the team.

Owners have made awful statements before, but the tolerance level, thankfully, has fallen. It took three years amid controversy before Marge Schott, she of the “Hitler went too far” comment, sold her share of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s.

If he ‘s forced to sell the team, Sterling could, unfortunately, profit big-time. He paid about $12 million 33 years ago and it could be worth between $500 million and $1 billion now. I would , however, hesitate to consider the court case that would result from trying to take away his profits.

About the only question that arises is that the statement used against Sterling wasn’t a public statement but something that was recorded and made public. Will everyone be faced with their private conversations being used against them in the future? And yet…

The more I think about that, the less troubling it is. The mindset of bigotry should not be part of the national thought process. Sterling is an NBA owner. And, though the nation varies in the ability and desire to hold people to higher standards, this is clear-cut. There’s no room for a bigot in the owner’s suites in sports, nor should there be. Hi-ho to Mr. Silver, I say.

Instead of worrying about the slippery slope argument, I’m hoping it’s the start of a new trend: Holding people to higher standards in the “to whom much is given, much is expected” vein. Who knows? Maybe it means athletes won’t be allowed to be societal bullies and sexual predators in the future.

We can always hope.


Article Comments

May-02-14 8:54 PM

The reason we live in this wonderful Country is for one Freedom of Speech!! Weather we agree or not that's his opinion.....


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